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Oldest114 Dies15 Heirs*
Oldest American dies at 114
SAN DIEGO (AP) Adelina Domingues, who was recognized as the oldest living American, has died at the age of 114. Domingues died in her sleep Wednesday afternoon, said Rebecca Williams, administrator of Brighton Place, the nursing home where Domingues lived since 1995.
Though Domingues had remained physically active and mentally sharp, her health had declined over the last month.
"I just think at 114, it was just her time," her granddaughter Deborah Murphy said Friday.
Domingues was born in the Cape Verde Islands and insisted her birth year was 1887, which would have made her 115 and the oldest person in the world. But a search turned up a baptism date of 1888. The Guinness Book of Records ruled she was 114 with a birth date of Feb. 19, 1888.
The oldest known living person is Kamato Hongo of Japan, who was born on Sept. 16, 1887.
According to the Gerontology Research Group, the organization which helped authenticate Domingues' age, John McMorran of Florida is now the oldest American. Born on June 19, 1889, he is 113.
Born to an Italian sea captain and a Cape Verdean woman, Domingues was 18 when she married Jose Domingues, a whaling captain. The couple moved to New Bedford, Mass., in 1907. They raised four children while Adelina worked as a seamstress.
After her husband died in 1950, Domingues moved to Southern California to be near her son Frank, who died in Palm Desert in 1998.
Murphy, the daughter of Frank Domingues, said his passing was devastating to her grandmother, who lost her first son when he was 2 and another son and a daughter when they were teenagers.
"She asked why she would still be alive and have to bury her last child," said Murphy, of Hookstown, Pa. "That was the hardest thing for her, to still be alive and having buried all four of her children and her husband and brothers and sisters."
Domingues lived on her own until she was 107. She voted well into her 100s, and often wrote admiring letters to Ronald Reagan.
"She was just our feisty little Portuguese sweetheart," Williams said. "She was quite opinionated, very clear in her wants and needs."
Domingues herself never tried to offer a secret for her longevity, though she ate a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, and abstained from alcohol and tobacco, Murphy said.
"She never took any credit for anything she achieved in life. She always gave credit to God and to his plan and purpose in life," Murphy said.
Domingues is survived by six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
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